If you’re Asian, I’m sure that at one point or another, a kid has come up to you with the palms of his hands together in a praying position, asking you to “open the refrigerator.” Unsuspectingly, you pull apart his hands as if to open the door of a refrigerator. The kid then demands, “pull out the Coke!” Suspending belief for a moment, you pull out the imaginary coke and hold it in your hands. The kid then tells you to “open the Coke and drink it.” So you pull the tab and take a chug. That’s when the kid bursts into laughter and starts singing in his best oriental accent, “Me Chinese, me tell joke. Me do pee pee in your Coke.” I had this joke played on me so many times that by the time I was in 6th grade, I just walked away as soon as I saw the refrigerator.
Kids come up with the cleverest ways to make fun of other kids. The curious thing is how do these kids come up with this stuff? How does every kid in America know the Coke joke? Even a law school friend of mine told me that he recognized that song, and he grew up in Utah, where there were no Asian people to make fun of. And kids seem to be getting more clever.
Just a few years ago I went to a third grade class as a volunteer to teach them about resolving conflict. Now, this may sound weird, but little kids intimidate me. I still have a built-in fear from when I was little because I know that kids hold no reservations when it comes to political incorrectness; they will say what’s on their minds. Well, this time a kid was so clever with the way he made fun of me that I couldn’t get mad. After telling everyone that my name was Jang and introducing myself, one kid in the back of the class raised his hand. I called on him and he asked, “So, can we call you Jackie Jang?”
At least, he asked for permission.